Initial Prenatal Lab Work

The Prenatal Profile is a Maternal Blood Screen that typically includes:

Blood type, Rh factor, and antibody screening

It is important to know your blood type in pregnancy. Blood type is based on particular molecules that sit on the surface of red blood cells. People either have A antigens (type A blood), B antigens (type B), both (type AB) or neither (type O) on their red blood cells. When it comes to Rh factor, some people have the antigen (Rh-positive) and some people don't (Rh-negative.) In other words, your blood type identifies which antigens you have from each group. If you are Rh negative, we will also order an antibody screen and discuss options for prevention of Rh sensitization. [More information on Rh factor and issues for Rh negative mothers.]

Complete Blood Count

A complete blood count (CBC) gives important information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood, especially red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC test usually includes:

    • White blood cell (WBC, leukocyte) count. White blood cells protect the body against infection. If an infection develops, white blood cells attack and destroy the bacteria, virus, or other organism causing it. White blood cells are bigger than red blood cells but fewer in number. When a person has a bacterial infection, the number of white cells rises very quickly.
    • Red blood cell (RBC) count. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. They also carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs so it can be exhaled. If the RBC count is low (anemia), the body may not be getting the oxygen it needs. If the count is too high (a condition called polycythemia), there is a chance that the red blood cells will clump together and block tiny blood vessels (capillaries). This also makes it hard for your red blood cells to carry oxygen.
    • Hematocrit (HCT, packed cell volume, PCV). This test measures the amount of space (volume) red blood cells take up in the blood. The value is given as a percentage of red blood cells in a volume of blood. For example, a hematocrit of 38 means that 38% of the blood's volume is made of red blood cells. Hematocrit and hemoglobin values are the two major tests that show if anemia or polycythemia is present.
    • Hemoglobin (Hgb). The hemoglobin molecule fills up the red blood cells. It carries oxygen and gives the blood cell its red color. The hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin in blood and is a good measure of the blood's ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.
    • Platelet (thrombocyte) count. Platelets (thrombocytes) are the smallest type of blood cell. They are important in blood clotting

Rubella (German measles) immunity

This test, called a rubella titer, checks the level of antibodies to the rubella virus in your blood to see whether you're immune. Most women are immune to rubella, either because they've been vaccinated or had the disease as a child.

Hepatitis B testing

Some women with this liver disease have no symptoms and can unknowingly pass it to their baby during labor or after birth. This test will reveal whether you're a hepatitis B carrier.

Syphilis screening

This sexually transmitted infection (STI) is relatively rare today, but all women should be tested because if you have syphilis and don't treat it, both you and your baby could develop serious problems. In the unlikely event that you test positive, you'll be given antibiotics to treat the infection.

HIV testing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Departments of Health recommend that all pregnant women be tested for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS.


There are other blood tests that are offered in addition to the prenatal profile. There are some tests related to genetic screening and others that might be specific to certain conditions or situations.

Genetic Blood Tests

Gestational Diabetes

Toxoplasmosis- Toxoplasmosis is an infection that has few symptoms for an adult, but can cause serious illness for a fetus. Many adults have been exposed to the parasite that causes the disease, and have developed immunity to it. But if you are not immune, and get your first bout of toxoplasmosis while pregnant, your child could be affected. "Toxo" can be gotten from raw meat, and from cat and kitten feces. So, if you have cats and handle their litter box, you might want to consider this blood test to make sure you are immune to toxo.


Urinalysis and Urine Culture A urine screen is used to assess bladder or kidney infections, diabetes, dehydration and preeclampsia by screening for high levels of sugars, proteins, ketones and bacteria. Repeated findings of sugar in the urine my necessitate dietary changes to help maintain normal blood sugar levels throughout the day. Higher levels of protein may suggest a possible urinary tract infection, or kidney disease. Preeclampsia may be a concern if higher levels of protein are found later in pregnancy, combined with high blood pressure. This screen is normally performed in our office at each prenatal visit. We will do a Urine Culture with your initial bloodwork to make sure you do not have an asymptomatic urinary tract infection (more common in pregnancy) nor Group B Strep bacteria in your urine.

STI cultures The Pennsylvania and New Jersey Departments of Health also recommends screening for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, sexually transmitted bacterial infections (STIs). Screening requires a speculum exam in order to swab the cervix.